This morning I’m holding onto hope.
Over the last three days, I had the immense pleasure of leading 47 junior leaders on a Kairos retreat. It was the first three day retreat since February 2020.
I shouldn’t say I had the pleasure of leading them, actually. I had the pleasure instead of watching eight seniors and eight faculty members lead these students through a few days of deep conversation and reflection.
I’ve been leading or participating in retreats like this as an educator for eighteen years. On this retreat, I had the opportunity to think about how much has changed and remained the same in those almost two decades.
What remains the same? This retreat always means something significant to each person on it. The Holy Spirit is always at work. I’ve been on retreats in the dead of winter when the heater and the hot water were broken. Man it was cold. And the Holy Spirit showed up. I’ve now been on a retreat while a pandemic was still raging. And the Holy Spirit showed up. These retreats always mean something.
What has changed? Over the years, the kids and the topics have. Students and faculty alike have always given moving, meaningful talks. But over the years they have gradually progressed to talks that really get to the root of faith in action and magnanimous love while l highlighting the importance of acceptance and empathy and real compassion.
I left the retreat yesterday filled with hope and inspired by these students who have come to know Christ as flesh and bone present not only in their friends and family but also in those outside of their circles. They are all works in progress (just as I am), but it gives me hope that they are moving in a direction that I truly believe can change the world.
This morning, I turned on the news. I heard about the mass shooting in Indiana first and then the death of Adam Toledo in Chicago. I was instantly reminded that are so many complex emotions so many are feeling in this moment. I was reminded of the world outside that deserves our empathy, our time, our compassion, our prayers and our intentional action towards change.
As I listened, I had to pause and put myself back in that room surrounded by these incredible young men that give me so much hope. I had to remind myself it was there.
These teenagers – they are gonna change the world. They already are changing me. But we can’t wait for them to do the work for us. We have to start now.
My prayer this morning is difficult to put into words. It’s a prayer for ears to listen, a heart to feel, and hands and feet to offer.
It’s a prayer of hope.